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January 23, 2008 / Tony

Homemade Pancetta Experiment

Since a pork belly is around 10 pounds of meat, I decided to try to make Pancetta at the same time I made my homemade bacon.  It is essentially an unsmoked Italian bacon that is cured and dried.  Here’s what my end product looked like:

img_1899.jpgAgain, like my homemade bacon post, I am not giving step by step instructions here.  I recommend the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  But, will be happy to go through the steps.  First, a portion of pork belly is trimmed neatly and then covered (really rubbed) with a savory salt mixture containing pink salt (salt with nitrite), garlic, thyme, sugar, and crushed juniper berries.  Second, it is left to cure in the refrigerator for about 8 days.  At this point, the pork belly should look like this after rinsing:

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Third, it is rolled tightly and then hung to dry in a cool, humid place. 

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The result was simply amazing.  The meat itself (and I know this sounds somewhat unappetizing) has an amazing fattiness to it.  It is somehow rich and creamy and fulfilling all at the same time.  And the additional flavors of the thyme, juniper berries, and garlic all lend flavor but also earthiness and depth.  Plus, since Pancetta is not smoked, the pork flavor of the belly is all the more in the forefront.  I had thought that my next pork belly would entirely be made into bacon but after tasting this, well, I’ve got some tough choices ahead of me.

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2 Comments

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  1. bleeding espresso / Feb 2 2008 10:33 am

    Mmmm…we’re making our own pancetta this year too. Can’t wait!

  2. Phil Gouge / Sep 9 2008 7:52 pm

    I have been making Pancetta and bacon for a year or so, all based on the recipes in the Charcutiere book. After establishing a benchmark with the recipe from the book I have been developing the Pancetta dry cure further. Successful additions now are 10gm of fennel seeds and 15gm of minced fresh ginger. I put all the dry ingredients into an old coffee grinder then add the garlic and ginger once I have a fine powder.

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